30 June 2011

Spot the Looney

I'm in the shower and John is at the bathroom sink. He makes a snide remark. 

Hannah: Well, nnnnyyyeeahhhhh
John: Yyyyyyeahhhhhhnnnnnnnn
Hannah: Bleeehnnnnehhahh!
John: Heblennnnneeckkkkk!

*this goes back and forth for about 20 seconds. 

Hannah: Wow.
John: What? Are you wowing how weird you are?
Hannah: How weird I am? You mean how weird you are?
John: You're the weird one, I follow suit.
Hannah: Impossible, you're so much weirder than me.
John: Hannah, I could make you feel like a weirdo all the time, but instead I just go with it.

29 June 2011

Going Green: With 4 Simple Ingredients

Today, I'm here to talk to you about a little thing some folks in my family call "consumer anarchy." That is, removing yourself from the system that says you have to have this new product to be happy, clean, important, or stylish. One of the little ways that John and I "stick it to the man" is through detergents. When I hoist a detergent cup above my head and pour homemade laundry soap into it, it has the same emotional effect on me as, say, hoisting a Molotov cocktail above my head, ready burn down a corrupt institution. It just feels good.

If you want to be a part of my group club gang independent gathering of like-minded individuals, you'll need 4 things:

Borax- $2.98
Arm & Hammer Washing Soda- $2.99
1 Gallon Distilled Vinegar- $2.50
Fels Naptha- $1.98

So far I have found 3 ways to use the above four ingredients to save a little time, a lot of money, and an environmental hassle....

Homemade Dishwasher Detergent
1 cup borax
1 cup washing soda
Vinegar (to prevent residue)  

Mix the powders together well and place in plastic container. Use 2 tbsp per load and a little vinegar in the rinse to cut the residue. You just saved $6.00!

Homemade Swiffer Wet-Jet Cleaner:
1 cup white distilled vinegar
7-8 drops essential oils (if you want a scent)

In an empty (and clean) old gallon jug pour 1 cup vinegar and the essential oil. Fill to the top with water. Close with lid and shake well. Open the old Swiffer Wet-Jet  and rinse out. Fill with new vinegar cleaner and pop into the Swiffer.  Keep the gallon in the cabinet to refill whenever it runs out again. Be sure to shake the Swiffer well before cleaning (to mix the the ingredients that tend to separate as they sit.) You just saved yourself $5.00! 

Homemade Laundry Detergent: 

Out of respect for the author's wishes I will not reproduce the recipe here, but you can find it here. You will need only the ingredients I listed above. We made 2 gallons of it this past weekend and it works great! The cost of making it at home is less than $1.00, and it took me all of 15 minutes to make. If you don't go home and make this you just lack sense. Next time your store-bought detergent runs out, keep the old container, make this, and then fill up the old Tide wash with the hand-made stuff! You saved upwards of $15.00!

28 June 2011

A Thorn in My Flesh

This weekend I threw my neck out...again. Look at me...what an idiot! This is what I look like after a couple days of being physically unable to shower or do my hair and after a good 15 minutes of crying about it. John felt this was a great opportunity for pictures. And you know what? It was. Now you get to see the real me, neck brace and all.

At some point in my high school years I unknowingly injured the base of my neck and have enjoyed periods of extreme neck and back pain a couple times a year because of it. I danced in high school, and I suspect that my injury occured when my instructor claimed that doing this was easy...


When I protested she asked me to lay on my stomach and then she proceeded to make my butt sit on top of my head in an effort to prove it could be done. It was done, to the tune of numerous clicks and cracks in my neck...I should sue...

When I had to drop the ball in the kitchen John picked it up and won a Wimbledon match with it! He decided he'd try his hand at baking and got to work on some homemade blueberry muffins! It's been so much fun to see him learn to love food and take up the art of cooking. He's getting really good at it and I can tell he enjoys the mystery of baking...you throw a few ingredients together and, voila, you have muffins! Check it out...

Don't those look amazing? Oh, and they were! The blueberries exploded with sour sweetness and it was just the thing I needed to turn my frown upside down. Thanks, John, for cooking me breakfast, massaging my back and helping me...

Get out of bed
Get dressed
Get off the couch
and at times helping me eat.

You're the best husband in the  world!

24 June 2011

Eggplant Bolognese Sauce

This recipe was so good. It's hearty and woodsy but almost completely guilt free. I adapted it from the Whole Foods version in a way that makes it no longer vegan but I think my changes gave the sauce a lot more depth of flavor. If you're a vegan or vegetarian, be sure to follow the original recipe and I'm sure it will turn out just fine. It makes a ton of sauce. I froze half of it and used the other half for a couple days worth of leftovers.


1 cup dry red wine
1 medium onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium eggplant (about 1 pound), peeled and chopped
12 ounces button or cremini mushrooms, chopped
2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 1/2 cups beef broth (I used bouillon cubes and watered it down a little to cut the salt)
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2/3 cup plain unsweetened almond milk
1 pound whole wheat or other whole grain pasta


Bring red wine to a simmer in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion, carrots, celery and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until onion is translucent and very tender and most of the wine has evaporated, about 10 minutes. Add eggplant, mushrooms and rosemary and cook until vegetables are tender, about 5 to 10 minutes. Stir in tomato paste and cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add tomatoes, broth and pepper and bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and stir in almond milk.

To serve, cook pasta in boiling water until al dente. Drain thoroughly. Serve sauce over pasta.

23 June 2011

5 Things Teachers Lie About

Bueller? Bueller?....

 The other day, I was thinking about my education. How much of my invested time went to waste, and how much was well spent. I surmised that about 75% of the most useful lessons in life I learned through experience working a job since I was quite young, and traveling the world. 20% came from past mistakes, leaving a good 5% to my formalized education.

I've heard teachers tell (or teach) a lot of bogus things throughout the course of my life. Sure, I had a few great teachers here and there (from which come the 5%), but the others taught dry, unimaginative, and uninspired ideas. Teaching wasn't their passion, going by the book was. To compensate for their inability to inspire our young minds, they lied. They lied straight to our pimply faces. Perhaps you'll remember a few of these...

1. You need to learn to do math without a calculator because you won't always be able to use them.

2. Learning cursive is important because you'll have to use it in high school and college.

3. If you don't pass gym, you won't make it to high school.

4.Algebra will come in handy in the "real world."

5.The point of education is to get a well paying job.

So what about you? Go on! What lies were you told?

22 June 2011

Homemade Restaurant-Style Salsa

Hey there folks! Today, my good friend Caitlin of Inside The Breadbox will be sharing a recipe with us. We've known each other for about 5 years now, and if there's one thing I'm confident Caitlin knows, it's Mexican food. I made this recipe last weekend and it was the best salsa I've had in years.

My husband, Ben, and I went on a mini-vacation to Melbourne Beach a few weekends back and had a blast. Time slowed down for us as we really focused on enjoying each other and this chance to really unwind. On the way home we talked about our favorite parts of the "vacation" -- we said things like just being together, the breezy beach Saturday morning, our fantastic Indian feast Friday night, seeing a sea turtle lay her eggs early Sunday morning... and the salsa at Cantina Dos Amigos for dinner Saturday night... yes, the salsa. It was fantastic. As I tried to pile on as much salsa per broken piece of chip as humanly possible, I resolved right then that I would figure out how to make salsa as good as this...
We got back at 5:00 p.m. after a tiring, HOT few hours' jaunt at Gatorland in Orlando, and I did just that. I was very pleased with the result.

This is a REAL photograph of the deliciousness that resulted from my mission to develop a salsa as tasty as the one we enjoyed at Cantina Dos Amigos...
Ingredients:(Makes enough to fill two16-oz. salsa jars!)

1 1/2 cans of plain diced tomatoes, juices included
3-4 green onions, white parts included (not the roots)
1 small yellow onion, quartered
a few chunks or more of a red onion
1/3 cup fresh cilantro
4 cloves fresh garlic, peeled
juice of 1 small lime
~ 1 tsp sea salt
about 4 seconds' shaking of Tabasco sauce (optional)

Put all ingredients in a food processor in no particular order and process until desired consistency is reached... some folks like it chunky, some folks like it smooth... I like it a little in between. :)
The beauty of making homemade salsa is that it is very forgiving. I have found that as long as I start with the base of 1.5 standard-sized cans of the tomatoes (and you can really use ANY kind you want, doesn't have to be plain), the result is really good! You can totally leave out the red onion, add more cilantro, more Tabasco, change the hot sauce or omit it completely, or fiddle with the amount of garlic cloves. The second time I made salsa I halved the garlic cloves, increased the cilantro, added more Tabasco, and use fire-roasted adobo-seasoned diced tomatoes, along with the half of a can I had left of the plain stuff from the first time. And it was even better!

You can even add ingredients! Add some whole black beans or yellow corn with some chili powder... or, I dare ya, some pineapple!
But I'm definitely done with the expensive, jarred crap. Even with sales and coupons, it's still really expensive for a small jar. I tend to have the ingredients listed on hand at all times, so it is not only fast, but very easy to prepare.
Enjoy... preferably with tortilla chips made with organic or non-GMO corn... try the blue ones at Aldi or Target! ;-) Thanks for hosting me, Hannah!

21 June 2011

Homemade Chinchillas


John: I don't feel so good.

Hannah: No? Why not?

John: I think it was the chinchilla I ate. It's upsetting my stomach.

Hannah: Enchilada. The enchilada you ate.

20 June 2011

Weekend Update| June 19, 2011

This weekend our friend Chris came up to stay with us all the way from Miami. Chris was John's best man at our wedding, and we haven't seen him since that day. It's been 8 months! So it was me and two men, which meant cooking up a LOT of food!

Dutch baby.

The prefect breakfast before hours of racquetball.

It was great to hang out with him and talk. We all go a long ways back and it's so much fun to catch up on life. He loves economics and taught it in China for 2 years before heading back to the states. He is now working on his first economics book (so proud!) To celebrate his time in China we went out to our favorite Chinese noodle house with him. They make the best pan-fried noodles and serve a traditional Hong Kong boba milk tea.


Pan-fried noodle with shrimp and pork.

On Sunday we went to church and Chris headed out from there so that John and I could get back to the house and prepare a meal for my dad for Father's Day. He, my step-mom, and my step-sister came over for the first time since we've lived in our place. It was fun for us to finally show them the home we've set up together and to cook for them. I made this recipe, only in shells instead of canneloni. The recipe is to die for, I'm now wishing I took pictures. I made Iranian Rolette for dessert, along with Persian tea.

You're thinking, it was Father's Day, why are you opening presents? Does your dad give you presents to thank you for being his daughter or something? No, no. It was my birthday last month, and we finally got together to celebrate a little even though it was Dad's day. They got me two lovely dishes to go along with the red Emile Henry ruffled pie dish I have. Aren't they beautiful?


I had a great time hanging out with my dad. I really enjoy his company and he makes me laugh so hard. John and I were actually sitting on the porch yesterday evening talking about how contagious my dad's laughter is. If he's laughing, you will be laughing. Even if you have no idea what is so funny.

Me and my dad

My dad and I go way back. He actually birthed me (well, assisted in the birthing.) He was the first person I ever saw in life. We have a similar love of music and philosophical and theological discussions. We both love the mountains and both love to laugh. We are both foodies. My dad even more so, I think. He taught me everything I know about wine and cheese. My dad is the BBQ master, and a darn good sauce maker. He's a motivational speaker by day and an absolute comedian by night. Pretty much...he's a blast to be around!

Oh, and we both love making stupid faces. Happy Father's day dad!

What did you do for Father's Day?

16 June 2011

If You Can't Write It, Steal It.

In her effort to console me in my last post, Lauren from Outside Voice sent me one of the best articles I've read in a long time from an advice column at therumpus.net. It was entitled Write Like a Motherf***ker. I'm indebted to Lauren now, as this website has absolutely changed my life, and gotten me through what seemed like endless hours of work time. It's as if the articles are written just for me, in precisely my type of humor. It's perfection on the page, and since I'm sucking so badly as a writer these days I thought, "why not steal someone else's writing?" Here's an essay from my favorite writer on the site, Ted Wilson, that was posted April 25, 2011 on Ted Wilson Reviews the World.

Hello, and welcome to my week-by-week review of everything in the world. Today I am reviewing Woody Woodpecker.

Woody Woodpecker was a cartoon woodpecker from the mid 1900s. He had the most annoying laugh. It reeked of insecurity, like he was yearning for someone to laugh along with him. And boy was he annoying. No one seemed to like him. No one. He was just a jerk all the time.

I haven’t seen him in a long time, so I think he must be dead. If he died the way most woodpeckers in real life die, which is by becoming old and brain damaged from all the repeated pounding of one’s head into a tree, then I imagine Woody’s would have been a sad death.

Muhammad Ali suffers a similar fate, but he can get by okay because he is charming and people like him. No one ever cared for Woody, so his death would have been lonely. Painfully, painfully lonely. I doubt he would have had much reason to laugh as he slowly withered.

Or, he might still be alive. Who knows for sure? He’s a cartoon after all, so even if he died, he could very easily come back to life. I wish my wife had been a cartoon.

The closest Woody has come to being real might have been the time one of the neighborhood kids dressed up as Woody for Halloween. I couldn’t believe anyone would purposely choose to embody such an unlikeable personality. I refused to give him any candy until he went home and changed his costume into someone more appealing, like Jack Palance. Instead, and in predictable Woody fashion, he had to be a jerk about things and stomped all over my flower bed with his giant yellow feet. So predictable. No wonder he died alone.

Woody did have a cameo in Who Framed Roger Rabbit, so I guess someone somewhere must have liked him. Or at least felt enough pity for him to give him a bit part.

14 June 2011

A Severe Case of Headdesk

Headdesk:  1. Unification of ones forehead with a computer desk as a means to vent frustration, often forceful. (Thank you, Urban Dictionary.)

I feel like Jim these days. To be honest, my love affair with blogging has momentarily turned to a stale staring contest and my passions have been lured by other things - like reading or attempts to exercise.

I was talking to John about it last night, wondering where I'd gone wrong. "Well," he said, "you haven't been cooking much and your plants are dead." I took this as a huge insult and went on a rant about how I've only killed half my plants and I cook food, just not really creative and yummy foods like I used to.

Even though I am in no way a professional I do consider myself a writer. As such, I think I'm entitled to some difficult days of writer's block. It doesn't come without a serious case of headdesk though. I love writing, and have a lot to say. Most people would say I have a little too much to say, so what happens when I've got nothing?

The only cure for headdesk is to wait it out. Take a little break and come back to the project refreshed and ready to take it on, full force. So that's what I'm doing. The pressure to write here every day is off for a while and I'll post when inspiration finally hits.

Does this ever happen to you?  How do you get past the block?

P.S. My apologies to all the lovely blogs I follow. I know I've neglected you lately. I wish I had the time, energy, and inspiration to surf the web for all your lovely thoughts and ideas. I care, I really do. But I want our interaction to be genuine. So don't give up on me. I'll be back soon...I'm absolutely sure.

13 June 2011

Consider Him Gnamed...

This was a seriously difficult competition to judge. So many of your answers made me literally laugh out loud. And to narrow it down to three was a daunting task. 

My top three were: 
1. Gnigel - via Phantom Kitty 
2. Wynston Da Wyz - via Half & Half 
3. Gnebakanezer - via Mo Pie, Please

After randomizing the winner was.....


Thanks Phantom Kitty for your input! I love the name!

10 June 2011

Gname My Gnome

It's time for the most radically rad contest ever. Meet my gnome. I got him as a birthday gift from my mom as a lovely (and much needed) addition to my patio garden. I know he looks a little like a wizard, but I can assure you that his hat, and his stature both confirm his identity as a gnome. 

To enter this contest you must be a follower (JUST KIDDING! But if you aren't a follower of this blog why not start now?) and comment below with what you think I should name him. I will choose my 3 favorite names and then choose randomly which one I shall bestow. 

What do you win? The satisfaction and joy that comes with knowing your name was picked to name the little guy that will grace my garden from dawn to dusk.

Get creative! And remember, the surest way to win my heart is by making me laugh till I cry.  :)

09 June 2011

The ABC's of Me

I love to sing...although I'm not known for it. I like to sing in my car.

I've seen these ABC's on a couple blogs lately and thought I would play along. I'm a little nervous that there's some obscure blog rule out there saying that things like this can only be posted on Fridays, as that's when I typically see them. But another thing you should know about me is that I'm a notorious rule breaker...

Here's a couple little things about me, along with some photos that say a lot about who I am.

John and I with our friend Ali at a dinner/discussion group we had about the nature of truth.

A. Age:  24
B. Bed size:  Queen
C. Chore you hate:  Washing cars. Actually I hate all chores. My husband does most of them in exchange for amazing meals and desserts!
D. Dogs:  Nada. Never.
E. Essential start to your day:  Peanut Butter
F. Favorite color:  At the moment? Coral. Traditionally the award goes to red.
G. Gold or silver:  I like the silver jewelry you find overseas…it’s all banged and worked…
H. Height:  5'5
I. Instruments you play: The nose guitar.
J. Job title:  Office Manager, usually that title weirds me out as I still feel like a kid in so many ways. It’s crazy that other adults see me as an adult responsible enough to managing stuff.
K. Kids:  None as of yet…hopefully in a few years. We would like 2 of our own and 2 adopted.
L. Live:  Orlando, FL

Me hamming it up the day before my wedding...

M. Mom’s name:  Aven. Which is my grandma’s name (Neva) backwards. Neva is my middle name.
N. Nicknames: 
Hannah Banana.
Hannah Montana (ugh!).
Hannah Banana Berry
Banana Berry
Hannah Bear
Pooh Pear
O. Overnight hospital stays:  Never.
P. Pet peeve: Bad customer service. Apathy. People who litter. Heavy breathers. Gum smackers.
Q. Quote from a movie/show:  "
Hey, man, my friend doesn't wanna fight, all right? But he also doesn't wanna be addressed with disparaging colloquial expressions... that imply some sort of genetic or cultural inferiority... or that are simply used out of some form of inappropriate ethnocentrism."- Bo Barret, Bottle Shock
R. Righty or Lefty:  Righty

One of my old Facebook profile pics. I always choose stupid photos like this for myself instead of pics of me.

S. Siblings:  One younger brother. 3 step sisters. 1 step brother. 2 brothers in law. 2 sisters in law. 2 siblings in heaven that never made it into the world. 
T. Time you wake up:  7:00-7:10 
U. Underwear:  What about it? Do I wear it? Yes. I wear what some may call “comfortable cotton granny panties.” I say comfort before fashion when it comes to the southern regions. 
V. Vegetables you dislike:  I like all vegetables. I’m not a huge fan of your basics though- broccoli, carrots, and peas. 
W. What makes you run late:  Waking up next to a hot man.

My friend Jeremy and I acting the fool. He really eggs me on.

X. X-rays you’ve had:  My lungs, my teeth, and my wrist when I broke it in elementary school.
Y. Yummy food you make: Lots of things. Not to brag, but cooking is one of my gifts. So most things I make turn out very yummy.

Z. Zoo animal favorite:  I’ve only been to a zoo one or two times. I like ostriches….they are one of the most stupid looking animals on the planet.